Wisconsin Green Bay Area Public School Case Study
Green Bay Area Public School District deploys ShoreTel for significantly lowered TCO and collaborative, cost-effective communications
Letting go of old-school thinking
When it was time to replace a legacy phone system for its 40-plus locations, Green Bay needed a solution that could simplify communications at a lower total cost of ownership and that was easy to use.
Search for lower TCO motivates district to do its homework
The district’s old phone system was a combination of nearly 1,000 end-of-support Comdial phones and an old Mitel voicemail application running on Centrex PBX services lines. The feature set was limited. In addition, replacement parts were no longer available, service was limited, and reliability was a growing concern.
“Enterprise-level telephony needs to provide an atmosphere of consistent, accurate, and timely communications with all stakeholders, including students and parents. For us, a system that’s intuitive and simple is critical, because we don’t need our staff focusing on programming phones or having to figure out a convoluted interface. We also wanted to improve security for classrooms and campuses with newer E911 applications and telephone intercom capabilities,” explains Behnke, Director of Safety, Security, and Telecom for the Green Bay Area Public School District.
Rather than confer with consultants, Behnke drafted general requirements in a request for proposals and sent it to telecommunications vendors across Wisconsin.
“What made our RFP so unique is that we detailed the systems in place and our network design and capacity and then asked vendors for their expert recommendations on best solutions, not just on cost but on features as well,” says Behnke. “We even considered a vendor-hosted solution but couldn’t find a way to meet the federal e-rate requirements. We had eight responses to our proposal, and three of the vendors actually recommended that we go with ShoreTel,” he continues.
Behnke and his team brought in five different vendors, including Cisco, Mitel, and ShoreTel. The vendors demonstrated their solutions and submitted to interviews and customer site visits. “In the end, we knew that ShoreTel was the right fit for where we are and where we’re going,” says Behnke. “I encourage other districts to take this approach to ensure they get what is right for their school district and not just go with the status quo.”
One big selling point for Green Bay Public School District was ShoreTel’s Emergency Notification Application to enhance the native E-911 functionality already built into the ShoreTel solution. Behnke wanted to be able to provide real-time audible notifications on desktops and phones whenever a 911 call is initiated anywhere on campus or in the district.
ShoreTel makes the grade for ease of use and management
Green Bay Area Public School District based its ShoreTel UC Solution on a strategic blend of top-notch technologies, including ShoreTel Communicator with Professional and Operator Access, ShoreTel Converged Conference Bridge, and more than 2,800 new ShoreTel IP Phones.
ShoreTel Communicator delivers universal ease of use and management for Green Bay employees, helping to improve how they can disseminate information, speed workflows, and better communicate all parties. The ShoreTel IP phone system allows users to work from their desktops, as well as from any phone connected to the network, as if it were their own extension.
“Our teachers need to communicate freely with parents and other staffers to ensure that needs are promptly met. ShoreTel Communicator is seamless in how it connects them faster, with rapid access to our directories and Outlook contacts, and use of softphones and email,” comments Behnke.
“IN THE END, WE KNEW THAT SHORETEL WAS THE RIGHT FIT FOR WHERE WE ARE AND WHERE WE’RE GOING. I ENCOURAGE OTHER DISTRICTS TO TAKE THIS APPROACH TO ENSURE THEY GET WHAT IS RIGHT FOR THEIR SCHOOL DISTRICT AND NOT JUST GO WITH THE STATUS QUO.”
Director of Safety, Security, and Telecom
Green Bay Area Public School District
The old voicemail system did not have a message indicator so the staff had no way of knowing whether or not anyone left them a voicemail message. Consequently, they were expected to dial into the system daily to check their voicemail box. Now everything is integrated and everyone has message waiting lights and e-mail notification of voicemail messages.
Green Bay buildings use ShoreTel’s distributed IP architecture and voice switches to leverage the power of the Web and to achieve high availability and reliability. With no single point of failure and 99.999% availability of applications, ShoreTel allows for secure anywhere, anytime sharing of information between schools and intended recipients.
Another enhancement arrived with the installment of the ShoreTel Converged Conference Bridge and ShoreTel IP phones for classrooms and educational areas. “Part of discovering the right solution was finding features that would improve overall school operation and security. ShoreTel’s conferencing bridge gives us an easy ad hoc collaboration, with anytime scheduling and recording, and great intercom capabilities to notify classrooms of emergencies or schedule changes,” says Behnke.
The project began with the district schools’ summer break and was completed by September. “Everything with the ShoreTel deployment went smoothly. We actually performed the install ourselves. ShoreTel was easy to configure, scale and manage, and it’s fully integrated with our key applications, cost efficient, functionally, and easy-to-use,” says Behnke.
Reduced number of phone lines and service costs
Behnke put ShoreTel’s claim of lowering TCO to the test. “ShoreTel helped us drastically reduce the number phone lines and related service costs. We were able to reduce the number of phone lines by 80% — from 958 phones to under 200 for 40 locations. Our average monthly landline phone expense dropped from $10,000 per month to less than $3,000 — that’s a savings of more than 70% a month! And that doesn’t even account for the labor savings realized for managing the telecom systems, in particular the moves, adds, and changes,” says Behnke.
What’s next for the Green Bay Area Public School District? “We want our teachers and staff to take advantage of all the modern tools the ShoreTel system has to offer. We’ll be encouraging the use of the videoconference bridge to provide distance learning, and use the Shoretel conference bridge to deliver educational content to the classroom and encourage collaboration across the district without leaving your classroom. For any school district or company interested in finding a telecommunications partner that will go the extra mile, that will strive to meet important communications goals, I’d suggest looking closely at ShoreTel,” Behnke concludes.
“OUR AVERAGE MONTHLY LANDLINE PHONE EXPENSE DROPPED FROM $10,000 PER MONTH TO LESS THAN $3,000 — THAT’S A SAVINGS OF MORE THAN 70% A MONTH! AND THAT DOESN’T EVEN ACCOUNT FOR THE LABOR SAVINGS REALIZED FOR MANAGING THE TELECOM SYSTEMS, IN PARTICULAR THE MOVES, ADDS, AND CHANGES.”
With an antiquated voicemail system and burgeoning communications requirements, the Green Bay Area Public School District needed to take a fresh look at its telecommunications system rather than making piecemeal repairs and replacements.
Green Bay selected a ShoreTel UC Solution for its intuitive, secure, and simple collaboration. The solution comprised more than 2,800 ShoreTel IP Phones, ShoreTel Voice Switches, ShoreTel Communicator, ShoreTel Converged Conferencing Bridge, and the ShoreTel Emergency Notification Application.
- Lower total cost of ownership
- Superior communication and collaborative capabilities
- Reduced administrative, training, and support costs
- 80% fewer phone lines
- 70% lower monthly service costs